Sporobolus heterolepis
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Sporobolus heterolepis Prairie Dropseed



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When planning your garden, it is very easy to get caught up in the beauty and splendor of bold and colorful flowers. However, one must not forget about that massive family of flowering plants, the grasses. A great choice of grass for your native landscape is Prairie Dropseed, also called Northern Dropseed. Native to most of eastern North America, this species really hits its stride in the midwestern prairies. It has a wonderful tussock-forming growth habit and takes on a nice golden hue all throughout the fall and winter.

Being a C4 plant, it excels in hot, dry conditions where it can really soak up the sun. As with many prairie species, it responds well to fire. The seeds of this species, which drop in the fall, are a great food for seed eating birds.  Sadly, in many areas of its range Prairie Dropseed populations are in decline. Adding this species to your landscape is a great way to lend a helping hand in the persistence of Prairie Dropseed well into the future along with bringing a different element to your native landscape.  

Dormant bare root plants ship each year during optimal transplanting season: Fall (October or Spring (April/May).
Potted plants (3-packs and trays of 38) ship when all plants are well-rooted and transit-ready, early May through June. Click here if you prefer to mix/match up to 6 species in a tray.
Sporobolus heterolepis - Prairie Dropseed

Map Key

This map shows the native and adventive range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

4 Questions asked on Sporobolus heterolepis






Q Gene • 10/20/2017 Is this grass plant deer resistant?
A Prairie Moon • 10/20/2017 Hi Gene, Yes! This is a native plant that we consider to be deer resistant. Of course, always keep in mind that deer resistant doesn't mean deer proof. So depending on the year or the deer, deer resistant plants may occasionally serve as a snack.
Q ryan • 05/15/2018 What is a good seeding rate for Dropseed for seed production?
A Prairie Moon • 05/15/2018 We would suggest about 12 lbs/acre, or 5 oz/1000 sq ft on Dropseed.
Q Rebecca • 06/30/2018 Is this plant salt tolerant?
A Prairie Moon • 07/03/2018 This is a good question, but unfortunately one where not a lot of research has been done - yet. We hope to publish a list on our Blog someday soon with a list of natives we are confident would survive on roadsides with moderate to heavy winter salt. My best guess is that it would do OK with light to moderate salt because it is a tough native grass once established. The few plants that we have observed, here in MN, do fine, year after year, on salted roadsides. A short list can be found by typing in 'salt tolerant' in the search bar above. Please let us know what you experience!
Q Doug • 08/05/2018 Can this be sown in the fall or will birds take most of it?
A Prairie Moon • 08/07/2018 You can sow this warm-season grass late-fall, but you don't have to. Since it's a Germ Code A, it does not need to overwinter to germinate. You could sow it in the spring and it should germinate when the soil temps warm up.

As far as birds eating fall-sown seed, that is a question we get often and our answer is that most native seed is quite small, and when you sow a diverse seed mix with dozens of species of wildflowers and grasses, all with differing seed sizes (totaling thousands, if not millions of seeds), even the hungriest birds or the largest flocks could not find and eat all the seed that falls to the soil.

If you fall sow just Dropseed, as a monoculture, walk or drive over the seeded area, pushing the seed into the ground just slightly to further protect it from immediate predation.
Seed:

Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, download: Seed Starting Basics.

Bare Roots:

We dig bare-root plants from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants:

Trays of 38 plants and 3-packs leave our Midwest greenhouse based on species readiness (well-rooted for transit) and based on order date; shipping begins early-May and goes into June. Plant cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays, and 2.5" wide x 3.5 deep in the 3-packs; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting instructions/care are included with each order.

Download: Tips on Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

Shipping & Handling Charges:
SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
over $100.00: 5% of the total seed cost

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $7.50
over $50.00: 15% of the total plant cost

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders shipping to Minnesota only. Shipping & Handling Charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season:

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within a day or two upon receipt.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 38 and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve).  We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May.  Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.

Delivery:

We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.

FOR MORE DETAILED SHIPPING INFORMATION, INCLUDING CANADA SHIPPING RATES (SEED ONLY), PLEASE SEE 'SHIPPING' AT THE FOOTER OF THIS WEBSITE.

iDetails

Seeds/Packet
300
Seeds/Ounce
16,000
Germination Code
A
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial
Soil Moisture
Medium-Wet, Medium, Medium-Dry, Dry
Height
3 feet
Bloom Time
August, September, October
USDA Zones
3-9
Plant Spacing
2-3'
Catalog Number
SPO06G